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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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152                                 LIFE  OF
nature, whether he describes a majestic or a terrible
landscape., a mineral., a plant, or an organic law. By
this xmadulterated faithfulness of description., this
simple painting of subjects just as nature reveals
them, and as the mind and heart arc normally moved
by them without intermixture of morbid sentimenta-
lity, or subjective peculiaritiesóby this, Htitnboldt
enchains the reader, and gives him such a conception
of the tropics, that he forgets whether he has seen
these scenes himself, or has only made their acquaint-
ance through a written delineation.
Humboldt is the representative of pure objectivcmess
and reflectiveness; like a concave mirror, ho reflects
all the received rays in the purest light,, but having
a collective ideal focus in the back-ground.
In his work   on the journey  to   the   equinoctial
regions., he made use of a species of description which,,
if not quite new, was employed with very happy effect
by him, and perfected to a high degree.    This method,
which has since  been  frequently   adopted,   has   the
peculiarity that he frequently patises in the   narra-
tion of his adventuires and j ourneys to make observa-
tions., and give explanations on what has passed, and
prepare the reader for the  better comprehension of
what is to follow by communicating general facts, and
by remarks on the general aspect of the coming events
on these stations in the journey.    By this method of
description such travels* especially when they refer to
the personal adventLires and accidents of journey, lose
that uniformity, subjectiveness, and monotony which
is  but  little removed from tediousness.    Humboldt
never obtrudes his individuality; his aim is always to
* "ve a scientific character to the narration  in which
.e plays a prominent part, and it must be especially
mentioned that he always rigidly distinguishes and
explains what is the resxilt of his own observation,
and what he has adapted from other sources, or made
use of as auxiliary explanations. Tins characteristic
is quite in unison with his modesty and scientific con-
sciousness, which makes him sift and arrange his facts